Four Words from Greek That English Really Needs

You have probably heard that Greek has many words for love. Even though we all know about these words, not much is being done to give love a makeover in the English language. We still say "I love you" to our spouses and "I love burgers" before dinner. However, we mean totally different things.

1. Agape: I Love All People

This type of love is what we feel when we give a homeless person a dollar or serve at a soup kitchen. The closest word to this in English is altruism, which is defined as "unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others." Altruism is what motivates young people to sign up for the Peace Corps and the average shopper to donate an extra dollar to cancer research at the register.

2. Eros: I Love You, Babe

In English, we use "eros" as a root word in "erotic." This explains the nature of eros, which occurs when we feel sexually or passionately toward someone. The feeling of romantic love is the closest description we have in English.

3. Philia: I Love You, Buddy

Ever heard of Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love? Philia is what we feel towards our friends. We don't feel a sexual attraction to friends, yet we still feel strongly enough to say "I love you" to them. This is philia love, and it would be nice to explain this difference in one word.

4. Storge: I Love You, Kiddo

Another word for love in Greek is storge, or the love between parents and children. This love is different from philia or agape in that it tends to be unconditional. It would be nice to express this difference to our children in one word, rather than repeating the often over-used "love."

Differentiating between types of love in just one word sounds wonderful. No more awkward explanations to friends that we love them, but not "like that." It might be nice to say "I philia you" and have everyone understand what we mean.

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Dave Child

Dave is the founder of, and has been building websites since the early 90s. He's one of those fortunate people who gets to do what he loves for a living.


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